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Ex-Yukos chief Khodorkovsky charged with organizing murders in Russia — investigators

December 11, 2015, 12:44 UTC+3

Mikhail Khodorkovsky didn't turn up at the Investigative Committee for questioning on the 1998 murder of Nefteyugansk Mayor Vladimir Petukhov

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Mikhail Khodorkovsky

Mikhail Khodorkovsky

© Zurab Javakhadze/TASS

MOSCOW, December 11. /TASS/. Russia’s Investigative Committee has brought charges in absentia against former head of the now defunct oil company Yukos Mikhail Khodorkovsky, accusing him of organizing two murders.

Considering that Khodorkovsky has not appeared before the Investigative Committee for questioning, he will be put on a wanted list soon, Investigative Committees spokesman Vladimir Markin said.

"According to the investigation, Khodorkovsky who was a shareholder and the board chairman of the oil company Yukos instructed his subordinates Nevzlin and Pichugin, and also other persons to murder Petukhov and Rybin whose official activities ran counter to Yukos’ interests," the spokesman said.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his lawyers didn't turn up at the Investigative Committee for questioning on the 1998 murder of Nefteyugansk Mayor Vladimir Petukhov.

On Wednesday Khodorkovsky, who currently resides in Switzerland, said at a press conference that neither he nor his representatives plan to appear in IC for questioning on the criminal case. Thus, investigators may ask the court to sanction the arrest of Khodorkovsky in absentia and put him on an international wanted list. The IC was expected to officially charge former Yukos head today with the murder of the Nefteyugansk mayor. An informed source told TASS earlier that investigators have already charged Khodorkovsky in absentia. Khodorkovsky has denied involvement in the murder of Vladimir Petukhov. He noted that he was ready to answer any questions over this criminal case only to the Swiss authorities. "If the country where I live not finds it necessary for me to answer these questions, I will do that," he said. "If the country where I’m now living deems it necessary to get answers to these questions [formulated by investigators], I’ll answer these questions," Khodorkovsky said at an online conference in the office of the Open Russia opposition movement. Khodorkovsky said earlier on Wednesday he didn't intend to go to Russia to be questioned at the Investigative Committee over the case of the Siberian mayor’s murder. "I can say one thing: I won’t take part in this show," the ex-Yukos chief said.

Nefteyugansk Mayor Petukhov was murdered in the morning of June 26, 1998 as he was walking to his office. Two unidentified persons gunned down Petukhov and his body guard Kokoshkin. The mayor died while the body guard was wounded. The mayor’s death was preceded by a conflict with Yukos, a single-industry enterprise in Nefteyugansk. The Moscow City Court sentenced Yukos ex-security chief Alexey Pichugin to life imprisonment for this murder. He was convicted for organizing three murders and four assassination attempts. Russian Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said on June 30 that investigators had reopened the criminal case into the murder of Petukhov over new information that ex-Yukos head Khodorkovsky could have ordered the murder of Petukhov and some other crimes. The former head of oil giant Yukos, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, and his business partner Platon Lebedev were found guilty of embezzlement and tax evasion in May 2005 and sentenced to nine years in prison. While serving their prison term, both Khodorkovsky and Lebedev were found guilty of embezzlement and money laundering in a second criminal case in December 2010 and sentenced to 14 years in prison, with account taken of the jail term they had served. Khodorkovsky was pardoned by Russian President Vladimir Putin and left prison in December 2013. Lebedev was released in early 2014. Media reports said the ex-Yukos head wrote in his pardon request that he pledged not to go into politics.

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